| Penn State fans have always lionized their linebackers,
beseeching them for high fives, snapshots and autographs. Some are
content just to get the signature of someone sprung from the same
gene pool as one of their beloved linebackers.
''I was cheering so hard for Brian at the Ohio State game that
people asked if I knew him,'' says 19-year-old Kristen Gelzheiser.
''When I told them I was his sister, they asked me for an autograph!
I couldn't believe it.''
Still, Kristen can easily understand why brother Brian, a senior,
has stirred such enthusiasm among the Penn State faithful. His 315
career tackles are the second-most in school history, behind only
Greg Buttle's 343. And his hunger for contact has made him a sure
early-round draft pick.
''If I'm going to run from here all the way over to there and not
hit you, why'd I bother running?'' Gelzheiser muses. ''I'm going to
hit you whether you like it or not.''
When he steps into the huddle, the normally well-kempt Gelzheiser
wears a game face that is almost a distraction to his teammates. ''He
comes in sweating and slobbering like a crazed dog,'' junior
defensive back Clint Holes says. ''I just want to reach out and wipe
his face off with my wristbands.''
Gelzheiser has always been intense when it comes to sports. A
pitcher with a 90-mph fastball at Baldwin High in Pittsburgh, he was
drafted by the Kansas City Royals. When he decided to become a
switch-hitter, Gelzheiser parked one over the centerfield fence in
his first lefthanded at bat. In football he was an all-star
quarterback recruited by Tennessee, Miami and Florida State; and as a
punter he once made an 87-yard kick.
With all of these talents at hand, why did Gelzheiser, also a
five-handicap golfer, opt to play linebacker at Penn State? Simple,
he says. ''I love to hit.''
This is an article from the Jan. 18, 1995 issue